Surf's Up (film)

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Surf's Up
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Chris Jenkins
  • Christian Darren
Produced byChris Jenkins
Edited byIvan Bilancio
Music byMychael Danna
Distributed by
Release date
  • June 8, 2007 (2007-06-08)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$100 million[3]
Box office$152 million[4]

Surf's Up is a 2007 American computer-animated mockumentary comedy film produced by Sony Pictures Animation. It was directed by Ash Brannon (in his feature directorial debut) and Chris Buck from a screenplay they co-wrote with Don Rhymer and Chris Jenkins, based on a story by Jenkins and Christian Darren. The film stars the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, Jon Heder, and James Woods. It is a parody of surfing documentaries, such as The Endless Summer and Riding Giants, with parts of the plot parodying North Shore. Real-life surfers Kelly Slater and Rob Machado have vignettes as their penguin surfer counterparts. To obtain the desired hand-held documentary feel, the film's animation team motion-captured a physical camera operator's moves.

Surf's Up was released in the United States on June 8, 2007 by Sony Pictures Releasing, and received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the animation and humor.[5] The film grossed $152 million worldwide against a budget of $100 million.[6] It was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 80th Academy Awards. A sequel, titled Surf's Up 2: WaveMania, was released direct-to-video in the United States on January 17, 2017, and theatrical in select countries.[7]


In a mockumentary, northern rockhopper penguin Cody Maverick, living in Shiverpool, Antarctica, with his mother Edna and his older brother Glen, has yearned to be a professional surfer ever since meeting the famous surfer Big Z many years ago, so when a talent scout shorebird named Michael Abromowitz arrives to find entrants for the Big Z Memorial surfing contest on Pen-Gu Island, Cody jumps at the chance. En route to the contest, Cody befriends another entrant, Chicken Joe, a nice, but dim-witted rooster surfer from Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

The entrants arrive at Pen-Gu Island, where Cody meets and immediately falls in love with Lani Aliikai, a female gentoo penguin who is a lifeguard. He also meets the contest's arrogant champion, Tank "The Shredder" Evans, who has won the Big Z Memorial nine times since it was first held after Z's presumed death during a previous match ten years ago. Cody sees Tank vandalizing Big Z's memorial and immediately challenges him to a surfing duel. Tank wins the duel while Cody nearly drowns and is stung by a sea urchin named Ivan. Lani rescues him and takes him to her uncle, "Geek", to help Cody recover from his injuries. Cody wakes up, but cannot find the souvenir necklace given to him by Big Z. Geek then finds it in his hut.

While returning the necklace, Geek finds Cody sitting on a koa log and offers to help him make a surfboard. They attempt to take the log back to Geek's house, only to lose control of it and end up on a beach far away from the house. When Cody gets to the beach, he discovers a shack full of old trophies and surfboards, which used to belong to Big Z. After observing Geek walking sadly into the shack, he realizes that Geek is actually Big Z himself. Thrilled, Cody asks him to teach him how to surf. Z reluctantly agrees, but tells Cody he has to make his own board first.

The attempt does not go well, however, as an impatient Cody refuses to listen to Z's advice and crafts a weak and unstable board that shatters upon hitting the water. Angry, Cody storms off and runs into Lani, who eventually persuades him to return. Cody spends the night working patiently on a new board.

Z compliments Cody on his new board, and Cody is eager to start training. Z instead has him do menial tasks seemingly unrelated to surfing. Finally, when Cody starts having fun, Z and Lani teach him how to surf the waves. Afterwards, Cody asks Z if he will come to watch the contest, but Z refuses, revealing that he faked his death because he realized he couldn't compete with his then-new rival Tank, and that he had become too focused on winning. Not impressed that Z gave up, Cody throws the necklace Z gave him into the sea, meets up with Joe, and gets back to the contest just as it begins.

Tank makes it to the finals, as do Cody and Joe. In the semifinals, Tank battles with Cody, with Tank trying to throw him off his board, but Tank falls off his own board and loses. During the finals, however, Tank appears and tries to knock Joe off his board. Cody intervenes at the last minute, sending himself and Tank into an area of the beach known as the Boneyards, which consists of dangerously sharp rock outcroppings and has killed many surfers who have ventured there.

Tank punches Cody off his board before crashing and is rescued by Lani. Z, who had secretly been watching Cody's performance, rescues Cody from a gigantic wave and helps him get back to the beach safely.

Z and Cody find out that Joe won by default since Tank and Cody were disqualified. However, Cody accepts the loss, having decided he would rather just have fun instead. Z reveals himself to the spectators and invites all of them to surf at his beach, where he joins Cody in tube-riding. Cody finishes his interview with a reflection of the past events and then joins the rest of his friends in the water to celebrate and enjoy life.



Surf's Up: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedJune 5, 2007
LabelColumbia Records

Surf's Up: Music from the Motion Picture was released on June 5, 2007. The following 14 songs are on the Sony's official film soundtrack.[8]

1."Reggae Got Soul"Frederick Hibbert, Warrick Lyn3113:09
2."Drive"Alex Katunich, Brandon Boyd, Chris Kilmore, José Pasillas II, Michael EinzigerIncubus3:52
3."Stand Tall"Dustin Bushnell, Jared Watson, Stan Frazier, Steve FoxDirty Heads3:11
4."Lose Myself"Lauryn HillLauryn Hill4:35
5."Just Say Yes"Ken AndrewsKen Andrews3:40
6."Forrowest"Jorge Continentino, Mauro RefoscoForro in the Dark4:44
7."Pocket Full of Stars"David Jones, Hayley Hutchinson, James Galley, Martin Cohen, Sam ForrestNine Black Alps3:32
8."Into Yesterday"Stan Frazier, Steve FoxSugar Ray4:11
9."Big Wave"Eddie Vedder, Jeff AmentPearl Jam2:57
10."Wipe Out"Robert Berryhill, James Fuller, Patrick Connolly, Ronald WilsonThe Queers1:41
11."Run Home (Instrumental)"Daniel Watchorn, Michael Dyball, Michel Heppner, Vincent NudoPriestess3:37
12."What I Like About You"Jimmy Marinos, Mike Skill, Walter PalamarchukThe Romantics2:57
13."You Get What You Give"Gregg Alexander, Richard KnowelsNew Radicals4:57
14."Hawaiian War Chant (Ta-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wai)"Leleiohaku, Ralph FreedBob Wills & His Texas Playboys3:14
Total length:50:17

According to the film's end credits, the version of "Wipe Out" heard in the film is actually performed by the punk band The Queers. The official soundtrack includes this version under the pseudonym "Big Nose", presumably for marketing purposes.[9][10] Two songs by Green Day, "Welcome to Paradise" (the version from the album “Dookie”) and "Holiday" in an instrumental version, are used for background music in the film.[11] Neither song appears on the official soundtrack album. In the primary teaser trailer, the song "Get on Top" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers can be heard in the background. "Welcome to Paradise" was also used in the second trailer promoting Surf's Up, as well as "Three Little Birds" by Sean Paul featuring Ziggy Marley. The DVD and Blu-ray behind-the-scenes featurette entitled "Making Waves" features the song "The Water", performed by Venice. This also does not appear on the "Surf's Up" soundtrack, but can be found on Venice's "Garage Demos Part 2: Fast Stuff" CD.

Surf's Up: Original Ocean Picture Score was composed for the film by Mychael Danna and it was released on a limited edition (of a thousand units) 23-track CD.[12]

Mandy Moore's "Top of the World" was featured in the film and included as one of the bonus tracks on the deluxe edition of the soundtrack album.



To promote the film's release, surfboard wax bearing the film's logo and a rendering of Cody was given out at the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con. It was attached to Open Season, which came out on September 29, 2006. On June 8, 2007, McDonald's issued eight Surf's Up toys in their Happy Meals for one month. In the Australian market, a few small plush characters of Cody, Lani, Chicken Joe, and Geek replace some of the toys in the US lineup. There was also a tie-in with the candy Air Heads which introduces a "New Wave" flavor (pineapple) and four collectible lenticular motion surf board shaped pieces. Build A Bear stores sold plush toys of the film's protagonist, Cody Maverick. Patrons could "build" their own Cody as well as dress him up in an array of surf-themed clothing and other accessories in Build A Bear workshops. They could also purchase Cody and accessories at the official site. Several plushes from Nanco intended for claw machines can also be found and purchased in varying sizes (from 6 inches to 11 inches to 17 inches). Characters available: Cody, Lani, Tank, Geek, Big Z, Chicken Joe, and Reggie Belefonte. A rare set of larger (Geek measures 15 inches) and higher quality plushes had been made available at the premiere's after party. Won either through available games, or given away with gift sets for attendees. Cody, Lani, Arnold and Geek were created and so far no plans for the dolls to be sold commercially have appeared. A series of children's 100 piece puzzles are available as well depicting various characters and setups. Five inch waterproof plush tub toys released by Jakks Pacific in minimal quantities to most major retailers. Five characters were produced, including Cody, Tank, Big Z, Arnold, & Chicken Joe. Each character has an attached washcloth/surfboard, but sport questionable likenesses (and in the case of Chicken Joe, entirely off model, bearing more of a resemblance to Mikey). Along with the release of the film, a companion Surf's Up video game was released by Ubisoft for all the current video gaming systems on the market. All versions of the game are the same with mild graphical differences, with only the Nintendo DS version changing the overall format.

Home media[edit]

Surf's Up was released on high-definition Blu-ray Disc, PSP UMD Video and DVD in the United States on October 9, 2007. The DVD and Blu-ray included two animated short films: The ChubbChubbs! and The ChubbChubbs Save Xmas, the latter of which premiered with this release.[13]


Critical response[edit]

Surf's Up has a 79% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 147 reviews; the average rating is 6.67/10. The site's consensus reads: "Surf's Up is a laid-back, visually stunning animated movie that brings a fresh twist to some familiar conventions. Its witty mockumentary format is fun and inventive, and the CGI is breathtakingly realistic."[5] Metacritic gave the film a score of 64 out of 100 based on 26 reviews.[14] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A−" on scale of A+ to F.[15]

Some reviews noted that in spite of it coming so soon after many films featuring penguins (March of the Penguins, Madagascar, and Happy Feet), Surf's Up was able to stand out on its own. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times reviewed: "The originality of the documentary format coupled with the splendid CGI effects qualifies Surf's Up as not just another penguin movie."[better source needed][16] The Dallas Morning News critic Nancy Churnin agreed: "Sorry, cynics, Surf's Up is a charmer. And if the birds look somewhat familiar, they have something fresh to say about friendship and what winning is all about."[better source needed][17] While James Berardinelli of ReelViews said: "If you have to see one penguin movie, this is it",[18] Kyle Smith of the New York Post had a different opinion: "Maybe the next penguin flick will do more justice to the subject."[19] Roger Moore of Orlando Sentinel gave the film a positive score, noting that it was "beautifully animated, terrifically acted and edited in a way that hilariously mimics those Endless Summer surf documentaries."[20] Conversely, Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic's critic, disliked almost everything: "From the nondescript voices to routine animation to an over-written story, this movie spends much of its time gasping for air."[21]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at number four and grossed $5,804,772 at the box office on its opening day in North America. It grossed $17,640,249 in its opening weekend. The film grossed $58,867,694 in North America, and $93,138,019 in the other territories, making the total worldwide gross $152,005,713.[4]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result
Academy Awards[22] February 24, 2008 Best Animated Feature Ash Brannon and Chris Buck Nominated
Annie Awards February 8, 2008 Best Animated Feature Surf's Up Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Production Deborah Carlson Won
Animation Production Artist John Clark Won
Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Feature Production Alan Hawkins Nominated
Dave Hardin Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in a Feature Production Sylvain Deboissy Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production Ash Brannon and Chris Buck Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Marcelo Vignali Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Denise Koyama Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production Don Rhymer, Ash Brannon, Chris Buck and Christopher Jenkins Nominated
Georges Award Un­known Best Animated Movie Surf's Up Nominated
Golden Reel Awards February 23, 2008 Best Sound Editing - SFX, Foley, Dialogue & ADR for Feature Film Animation Steven Ticknor, Martin Lopez, Michael J. Benavente, Jason King, Ulrika Akander, Gary A. Hecker and Michael Broomberg Nominated
MTV Russia Movie Awards April 26, 2008 Best Cartoon Surf's Up Nominated
My Nick Awards[23] September 4, 2008 Movie of the Year Surf's Up Won
Saturn Awards June 25, 2009 Best Animated Feature Surf's Up Nominated
VES Awards February 10, 2009 Best Single Visual Effect of the Year Rob Bredow, Lydia Bottegoni, Daniel Kramer and Matt Hausman Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture David Schaub, Moon-Jung Kang, Brian Casper and Andreas Procopiou Nominated
David Schaub, Peter Nash, James Crossley and Shia LaBeouf Nominated
Outstanding Effects in an Animated Motion Picture Rob Bredow, Daniel Kramer, Matt Hausman and Danny Dimian Nominated
Young Artist Awards March 29, 2009 Best Family Feature Film (Animation) Surf's Up Nominated


A direct-to-video sequel, titled Surf's Up 2: WaveMania, was released on January 17, 2017. The film stars WWE superstars John Cena, Triple H, The Undertaker, Vince McMahon, and Paige.[24]


  1. ^ a b "Surf's Up". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Surf's Up (2007)". Allmovie. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  3. ^ "Surf's Up". The Numbers. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Surf's Up". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Surf's Up (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  6. ^ "07q1_sony.pdf" (PDF). Sony. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  7. ^ "Surf's Up 2: WaveMania". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  8. ^ "Surf's Up (Music from the Motion Picture)". iTunes. June 5, 2007. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  9. ^ Surf’s Up (DVD). Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia Pictures. 2007.
  10. ^ "Surf's Up (2007)". The Soundtrack Info Project. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  11. ^ "Surf's Up (2007)". The Soundtrack Info Project. Retrieved December 30, 2009.
  12. ^ "Surf's Up (Original Motion Picture Score)". iTunes. January 29, 2008. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  13. ^ Desowitz, Bill (July 30, 2007). "Surf's Up DVD to Include New ChubbChubbs Short". Animation World Network. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  14. ^ "Surf's Up". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  15. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 8, 2007). "Critic Review - Chicago Sun-Times". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  17. ^ Churnin, Nancy (June 8, 2007). "Critic Review - Dallas Morning News". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  18. ^ Berardinelli, James (June 9, 2007). "Surf's Up". Reelviews. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  19. ^ Smith, Kyle (June 8, 2007). "THESE PENGUINS RIDE THE MILD SURF". New York Post. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  20. ^ Moore, Roger (June 8, 2007). "Surf's Up (4 stars out of 5)". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on December 17, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  21. ^ Muller, Bill (June 8, 2007). "Surf's Up". Arizona Republic. Retrieved October 9, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ "The 80th (2008) Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  23. ^ "MPN: Natália Guimarães em premiação infanto-juvenil". Estrelando. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  24. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (December 1, 2016). "Catch 'Wavemania' in Sony's 'Surf's Up 2' Trailer". Animation Magazine. Retrieved December 1, 2016.

External links[edit]